Poor Nancy Pelosi. For more than two years, our beloved House Speaker has been fighting for the public interest, toiling to restore “integrity and civility” to the Capitol’s lower chamber, and striving to shape the most ethical Congress in world history. And what is her reward for this selfless service? The cruel wrath of a vicious, widespread, nonpartisan conspiracy—designed to convince the American public that she is lying and playing politics with national security. This cabal is especially insidious because it involves so many disparate, and seemingly unrelated, players. Further still, its nefarious and remarkably prescient architects had the foresight to begin crafting the phony case against Pelosi years ago, fabricating evidence and coordinating lies as far back as 2002. These people must be exposed and thwarted to preserve Mme. Pelosi’s honor.
The first, and most obvious, group of co-conspirators is the GOP. As Pelosi pointed out at Thursday’s press conference—during which she exhibited her trademark unflappable demeanor and grasp of the facts—Republicans are exploiting the emergence of this manufactured scandal to distract the public from the real culprits: Themselves. “This is a diversionary tactic to take the spotlight off the people who conceived, developed, and implemented these policies, which all of us long opposed,” the Speaker explained, her face taut with what some observers described as righteous indignation.
Several specific Republicans have exhibited particularly dastardly behavior. Congressman Peter Hoekstra’s staff has informed journalists that the Michigan representative is seeking the release of memos he’s personally reviewed that clarify precisely what Pelosi was told during the infamous September 2002 CIA briefing on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT’s). Pelosi has been absolutely clear about what happened during that meeting, and it’s offensive that anyone would go out of his way to contradict her April 23, 2009 recollection: “At that, or any other briefing, we were not—I repeat—were not told that waterboarding or any of these other Enhanced Interrogation Methods were used.”
Yet Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware still claims that the memos the Congressman purportedly reviewed document that Pelosi was, in fact, briefed on multiple EIT’s, including waterboarding. Did Hoekstra simply not hear the Speaker’s remarks? She made it perfectly clear that she was not, repeat: was not, told about the use of these methods. Her’s is a much more forceful and straightforward assertion than his coy games involving yet-to-be-produced “memos.”
Next, we have the disgraceful Porter Goss. His complicity in the anti-Pelosi web is especially distressing considering Pelosi’s one-time admiration for the man. Back in September 2002, when Goss and Pelosi were the respective Republican and Democratic ranking members on the House Intelligence Committee, they both attended the briefing during which they were not, repeat: were not, told about waterboarding, etc. Two months later, Pelosi took to the House floor to praise her colleague: “We always put national security first, so our work [in committee] is generally conducted in a bipartisan way, and never more so than under the leadership of our chairman, Mr. Goss.”
Now that Operation: Nuke Nancy has commenced, Goss’ bipartisan façade has melted away, revealing a snarling partisan pitbull determined to “recall” details that contradict Pelosi’s truthful account. Writing in the Washington Post, Goss now claims he is:
“Slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as ‘waterboarding’ were never mentioned…Let me be clear. It is my recollection that: [We] were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists. We understood what the CIA was doing. We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.”
This Congressman-cum-CIA director-cum-witch-hunt enabler will have much to answer for when Pelosi’s truth commission confirms her innocence.
The plot also includes (naturally) the Central Intelligence Agency itself. What else would we expect from an entity that Pelosi candidly accused of misleading Americans “all the time”? At the front lines of the disinformation campaign were the deceitful, Bush-loyalist operatives who in 2002 lied to Pelosi by “notifying” her that waterboarding was not, repeat: was not, taking place. Of course we now know that Abu Zubaydah had actually been subjected to the torturous ordeal less than a month before the CIA’s perverse falsehoods were relayed to Pelosi.
Fortunately, being the pragmatic leader that she is, The Speaker shrewdly waited to go public with this detail until this past week. She held back until the ideal moment to drop her truth-to-power/self-vindicating bombshell. If she had tipped her hand in 2005 when EIT’s were first revealed to the public, she would have surely divulged one of her most dramatic facts, thus providing The Conspiracy with almost four additional years to concoct fake evidence to refute it. Well played.
We ought not ignore the current government collaborators: Those who are peddling undoubtedly forged memos that dispute Pelosi’s airtight story. The CIA, led by Obama appointee Leon Panetta, provided one such “report” from 2002 to the US Senate earlier this month. It read:
“The report details a September 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi…the meeting is described as a ‘briefing on the EIT’s including use of EIT’s on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EIT’s that had been employed.”
This could be the most sinister element of the entire enterprise. Elements of the US intelligence community literally prepared a patently false document in 2002 to contrive “proof” of lies set to be put into motion seven years later. However, this bundle of slander does not square with Speaker Pelosi’s unambiguous statement of fact that she was not, repeat: was not, briefed on any Enhanced Interrogation Methods at that or any other meeting. Good grief, if Pelosi hadn’t been so thoroughly and convincingly honest on April 23, 2009, perhaps The Conspiracy would be denting her credibility.
Finally, there’s the news media. Its involvement, active or otherwise, in the perpetuation of this scheme has been scandalous. Two outlets deserve special condemnation: ABC News and The Washington Post. (Note that these news agencies just happen to collaborate on public opinion polls. Coincidence? Speaker Pelosi thinks not). ABC News’ Rick Klein and Jake Tapper, likely at the behest of The Conspiracy’s moneymen, have taken the lead in reporting every convenient “development” as the plot unfolds. Their “journalism” has rocketed around the famously unreliable right-wing blogosphere, whipping the extremist teabaggers who read those sites into a frenzy. The Post has been even more irresponsible. Not only did it print Goss’ fantasy as a serious Op-Ed, it also planted the seeds for the current anti-Pelosi effort years ago. In December 2007, WaPo/Neo-Pravda reported:
“In September 2002 (My goodness, these lies are ruthlessly consistent) four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in US custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was given a virtual tour of…the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk. Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding…”
Perhaps if Pelosi hadn’t been tirelessly pursuing her job of “[changing] the leadership in Congress and in the White House—the Congress part,” at the time, she would have spotted and fired back at this misleading article. In fact, it may have proven a golden opportunity to first uncork the “CIA lied to me!” truth tornado. Alas, Speak Pelosi mustered a Herculean effort to resist the overwhelming temptation to respond, keeping her powder dry for another year and a half. Again—very cunning.
Despite Speaker Pelosi’s unparalleled reservoir of political street smarts, she can only hold off the barbarians for so long. Some recent developments indicate that the devious plotters may have infiltrated both the White House and Steny Hoyer’s office, meaning Pelosi will increasingly rely on her fellow citizens alone to affirm the gospel of her heavily parsed public statements.
But there is a light at the end of this tunnel of deceit. When the Speaker’s ethical, civil, integrity-filled truth commission exonerates her, and exposes The Conspiracy for what it is, she will forever smile on those who stood by her side during these difficult days. It may be difficult to discern whether her face is actually smiling, but trust her, it will be. Until then, we must unite to SOS: Save our Speaker, the last outpost of honest dealings in Washington, from this cesspool of rank dishonesty.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography